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Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Shuffling Off to Buffalo and a New Breeding Program

Shuffling off to Buffalo for at least a short while driver Jody Jamieson (and trainer/driver Nicholas Boyd), who because of the changes in Ontario is seeking out opportunities to race while staying nearby their base of operations.  Jamieson's quest has his shuffling off to Buffalo where followers of racing at Buffalo Raceway will be seeing Jamieson racing in ten of the twelve races on Wednesday (Nick Boyd will be racing in one race).  It should be interesting to see if handle increases at the Hamburg oval and if Jamieson cleans up. 

The New Jersey Sires Stakes may not be the only game in town in New Jersey if a bill (A-4033) Assemblyman Ronald Dancer has proposed becomes law, the law would dictate funds dedicated to the NJSS would be diverted to the Standardbred Development Program (SDP) which would be open to NJSS-eligible horses as well as allow the foals born in NJ if the broodmares, spend 150 consecutive days in New Jersey after being bred.  If the bill is approved, temporary rules may be adopted to allow the Standardbred Development Program to begin operation in 2014.

While this bill will not get stallions to return to the state, adoption of the SDP could be a shot in the arm for the NJ breeding industry and help fill races.  With artificial insemination, the need to ship horses to breeding farms has been greatly reduced.  While this program will not stimulate breeding within the state, breeding farms may once again be populated with broodmares getting read to give birth.

Thoroughbred fans, get ready for the William Hill Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park this year.  Not to be outdone by the Meadowlands' deal with Hard Rock Café, Monmouth inked a deal for naming rights with William Hill, a British Bookmaker who will be handling Monmouth Park's sports betting operations, if (and I am still convinced a big if) NJ's sports betting bill gets judicial approval.

Speaking of New Jersey, over on a message group we were talking about fair racing and how fair racing is a great way to acquaint people to horses; to let them develop a connection to them, after all, at fairs you can often walk amongst the stables and watch all the preparation up close.  To this day, I think it was a foolish decision way back to end the NJSS fair circuit and during the early years of the sires stakes, the Garden State Stakes.  Located at fair and training tracks throughout the state of New Jersey, you had the opportunity for people to come out for the day and enjoy the races (sans wagering)..  While Stanley Dancer's Egyptian Acres was probably the best stop on the circuit for fans, I remember Willowbrook Farms ("The Home of the Hobos") in Tinton Falls, and Johnson Park in Piscataway on the banks of the Raritan (the track often was under water  when flooding occurred.   Sadly, I doubt the fair circuit will come back; especially at this juncture.

But then conversation turned to Weequahic Park in Newark, and whose career's may have started there.  While looking for information, I located a website with stories from the days of Weequahic Park as well as a page where some photos from that era are posted.  Those who use Google Earth can still see where the track once stood.

If you have a fair track near where you live, make sure you try to come out when there is racing for once it is gone, there is a good chance it will be lost forever.  Fair boards need to see racing still draws a crowd.

Legislation to be introduced in New York would have the first three full-fledged casinos at existing harness tracks.  Under the proposal, Monticello Raceway would be first with Tioga Downs and Saratoga Raceway the next two.

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